Sachin retirement huge opp for brands in festive season

11 Oct,2013


By Vijaya Rathore, Ravi Teja Sharma & Ratna Bhushan


Sachin Tendulkar will retire from cricket after playing his 200th Test match in November, bringing to an end a 24-year career as a star player during which he endorsed several top brands including colas, cars, sport shoes, banks and even engine oil, helping them find buyers in post-liberalization India.


His retirement plan may have saddened millions of his fans across the world, but it’s come as a huge opportunity for brands that were in search of a high-visibility platform to push sales during the festive season. These brands now get one last chance to make the most out of the 40-year-old cricketer as one of Indian sport’s biggest heroes walks off into the sunset. “It is sad news for cricket lovers, but a great opportunity for consumer product companies,” said adman Prahlad Kakkar. “His farewell game will be a big marketing affair.”


Media planners refused to speak on record about the money at stake for the home series with the West Indies. But they said that a 10-second ad slot on ESPN-Star Sports that usually costs between Rs 40,000 and Rs 60,000 (for a Test match), would now command a 50% premium for Sachin’s last Test.


“It will be an extended festive season this time since usually most festive campaigns end with Diwali. Brands associated with Tendulkar will roll out campaigns and create a buzz around the Test match,” said Basabdutta Chowdhury, chief executive officer of Madison Media Plus, a company that helps advertisers find good deals on TV. Test matches generally aren’t a big deal for advertisers, but Tendulkar’s last match will be different as viewership will zoom.


Brands probably saw it coming and planned for it. Sportwear-maker Adidas, which has a 16-year partnership with Tendulkar, originally planned for the 200th Test in Capetown sometime in January, “which got changed and became Mumbai” (BCCI has not officially said where the match with the West Indies will be played).


“For his final tournament, we will launch a mega SRTforever campaign,” said Tushar Goculdas, Adidas brand director in India. “We will celebrate but in a slightly different way.”


Shailendra Singh, joint managing director of sports and entertainment firm Percept, who has managed several Indian cricketers, said that Tendulkar will possibly reposition himself now as a non-playing cricket icon. “Retired cricketers have a limited career scope in this country, but Sachin has the potential to position himself as the Amitabh Bachchan of cricket. If Sachin can do that successfully, he can be earning more than a Dhoni,” he said.


Most companies don’t want to dump him after his retirement. Pune-based real estate developer Amit Enterprises has firmed up plans to launch Sachin-branded residences in projects in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. These apartments will be designed according to Tendulkar’s taste.


“We had taken all approvals earlier and were waiting to see if such an announcement is made. We will launch the residences just before the 200th Test match,” said Kishor Pate, managing director of the company. The contract between Amit Enterprises and Tendulkar is only till the end of 2013, but the company has decided to extend it further. “His brand is evergreen,” he said.


“You cannot take cricket out of Sachin,” said Rishi Piparaiya, director marketing at insurer Aviva Life, which has planned a digital media campaign featuring Sachin on Facebook and Twitter.


The brand has used Sachin as the ambassador for more than five years now and plans to continue with him. A spokesman for Coca-Cola India declined to comment on whether he will continue to be associated with the brand. The cricketer will gravitate toward achievement-oriented brands, said Abraham Koshy, professor of marketing at the Indian Institute o f Management, Ahmedabad.


Advertisers will face a gap in terms of an endorser who represents sustainability and continuity of performance.


“They will miss him till someone emerges to fill the gap, but that is a big challenge,” he said. Tendulkar was the country’s first big brand ambassador, when India was opening its market to the world in the early 90s. Foreign brands were being launched in the country and Indian brands were scaling up.


“He was never the underdog, he was the challenger. In those times, he changed the country’s perception of itself. His brand will now evolve and needs to reinvent itself to remain relevant,” said Anirban Das Blah, founder of celebrity management company Kwan, which used to promote sportspersons a few years ago.


Since the early 1990s, when the cola and FMCG brands began investing large amounts of money into advertising campaigns that formed a part of now historic marketing wars, many brands rode on Tendulkar’s popularity, especially among young Indians. At least two people who didn’t want to be named and have worked closely with the cricketer, said his earnings from endorsements in the last two and half decades would be close to Rs 500 crore, a figure ET could not verify.


His brand value has been such that rival companies have fought to sign him up. He worked with Pepsi for a few years and now endorses Coke. He has promoted both Fiat and BMW from time to time.


“India cannot boast of another athlete like Sachin Tendulkar, who in addition to the obvious talent, has displayed consistency, commitment and discipline over the last two decades or more,” said Seamus O’Brien, executive chairman of sports management firm World Sport Group (WSG), which continues to represent the cricketer.


Source:The Economic Times

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